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We welcome  Labour Party’s pledge to phase out animal testing 

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Person holding ipad reading UK General Election Labour Party manifesto

Tell your General Election parliamentary candidates how important this issue is

We welcome The Labour Party’s manifesto pledge to phase out animal testing – and call on all other parties standing in the 2024 UK General Election to clarify their commitment to ending the suffering and death of animals in laboratories.

The manifesto states that Labour will “partner with scientists, industry, and civil society as we work towards the phasing out of animal testing”. 

If elected, the party must develop a roadmap with clear targets, milestones and action to phase out the use of all animals in experiments, led by a new minister to co-ordinate plans across all departments.

Home Office statistics show that there were over 2.76 million uses of animals in laboratories in Great Britain in 2022. Ten per cent of those are tests required by regulators to assess the safety or effectiveness of chemicals, medicines and other products.

In February 2024, the government committed to increased funding for the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (3Rs), from £10 million to £20 million in 2024-25, and to create plans to reduce the number of animals used in scientific procedures. Andrew Griffith MP, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, also committed to publishing plans this summer “to accelerate the development, validation and uptake of technologies and methods to reduce the reliance of the use of animals in science”, to increase fees paid by organisations who apply to conduct animal testing, and to review the duration of the licences issued to those organisations down from the current five-year average.

Previously, in 2023, the then Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, also stated that “the government is seeking to improve safety by the use of new non-animal science and technology”. None of this is reflected in the 2024 Conservative Party manifesto.

The Liberal Democrat 2024 manifesto promised a “comprehensive new Animal Welfare Bill to ensure the highest standards possible". The Green Party manifesto also proposed “a new organisation protecting animals”, but neither made any specific mention of animal testing.

White Rabbits in a cage

Our ‘Pledge Cruelty Free’ campaign – which can be signed on our website – allows you to ask all parliamentary candidates in your constituency to make a commitment to put the 1998 ban on testing cosmetics on animals, covering ingredients used either primarily or exclusively in cosmetics, into law; make our homes safer by modernising the system for testing the chemicals that go into the products we use every day, such as food, clothes, household cleaning, furniture, electronic goods, paints and dyes, and removing animals from those tests; and ask that the government create a plan to phase-out animal testing forever, with a minister dedicated to delivering this target across all government departments.

The campaign is a direct response to the government’s decision, revealed in May 2023, to secretly abandon the UK’s 1998 ban on animal testing for cosmetics. This information came to light as part of our legal challenge to the Home Office on the UK’s policy on animal testing.

Since this revelation, and following our legal pressure and an overwhelming reaction from the public, the government has partially reinstated the cosmetics testing ban, to include ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics but, as this only covers approximately 20% of the total ingredients used in cosmetics, that is not enough.

Our Head of Public Affairs, Dylan Underhill, said: “This pledge from the Labour Party is most welcome, and reflects both the views of the public and the strength of feeling that there is on this issue. Animal testing is simply not good science yet inexplicably continues as the default method for testing the safety of products. We know that, as a country, we can do so much better in our protection of the millions of animals that suffer and die in laboratories every year.

“However, whilst any ambition to drive down the number of animals used in scientific testing is long overdue, Labour must develop a roadmap with clear targets and milestones to phase out the use of all animals in experiments. A greater increase in funding, in line with the levels for similar ground-breaking technologies in the UK, needs to be accompanied by innovative incentives to encourage scientists and industry to move away from the current use of animals. Non-animal testing methods, in many cases, have already proven themselves to be faster, cheaper and more accurate than animal testing. 

“Animal testing touches our lives in many ways that most of us don’t appreciate, from cosmetics and household products to clothes, furniture, plastics, electronic and white goods, paints, dyes, and food – all of these things can be associated with animal testing on their way to our homes. Whichever party forms the next government, we need them to take bold steps forward – without this, we will be condemned to a never-ending cycle of small reductions rather than the transformative step forward which is needed to meet the aspirations of the public.”